EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

December 25, 2012

Plenty of Christmas gifts needed in Merrimack Valley

High School Sports
Dave Dyer

---- — Okay, Christmas is over, and I must admit that I didn’t get a whole lot that was on my wish list.

On the other hand, as far as the local sporting scene, it’s a lengthy list and most of what I’d like could take awhile. And, maybe, just maybe, I’ll have a better chance of seeing some of these things happen if I share.

So here are some of the wishes I put on my list for the year 2013.

A return of the New England Wrestling Tournament to the Merrimack Valley. This is where it belongs, in the hotbed of wrestling, in a central spot for all the states that participate.

An all-weather playing facility for Methuen High. Most of the other large schools in the Merrimack Valley already have one and it’s a tremendous boon for sports teams from the youth through college levels.

Similarly, an all-weather facility at Timberlane, Salem, Londonderry or Pinkerton. There should be at least one in southern New Hampshire. Not only would the schools and communities benefit, but it would make tournament scheduling and travel much easier.

A swimming pool for Andover High. Why does the premier program in the state, and perhaps the east coast, not have one, what with all the other fine facilities at the high school?

A revival of the Haverhill Baseball Tournament at Haverhill Stadium. The best facility in the region, with the possible exception of St. John’s Prep, should have a major tournament there every year.

A new athletic complex at Pentucket. Luckily, there are plans to build one, and it’s not a moment too soon. The tennis courts and track are all but unusable and several fields need a makeover.

More respect for wrestling at Andover. The Warriors shouldn’t be forced to practice or have meets at the Wood Hill Middle School, which is a good 15 minutes from the high school, when much closer facilities are available at the West Middle School and Doherty School.

It’d also be nice to see a little more urging to their athletes from the football coaches. I

t would only help both programs.

How about some stands and permanent lights at Windham High School? The Jaguars’ football program has certainly played well enough to deserve both.

Earlier starting times for high school hockey games, especially on the weekend.

It’s bad enough that hockey players often have to get up so early, so why make them and fans stay up so late?.

And, of course, late games make it difficult to publicize properly in the next day’s paper.

A little more cooperation from athletics directors.

Too many ADs don’t notify the media or their fans of changes and they rarely go out of their way to promote their athletes when they know of interesting stories that could boost their programs.

I’m sure my colleague, Mike Muldoon, would second this.

On a similar vein, while most area coaches are quite helpful, there are a few who reluctantly cooperate if at all, which is strange because they’re getting paid to look out for their athletes.

Also, why do so few coaches have their assistants on the freshman and JV levels e-mail or call in their scores with a highlight or two?

It’s something that coaches did far more in the past, it’s so easy and it’s a way to promote the program.

More athletic contests between Phillips Academy, Brooks and local high schools.

I’d love to see Brooks boys basketball face Central Catholic, North Andover and Andover, for example.

A new conference for Masconomet. Remaining in the Cape Ann League doesn’t do anything for the Chieftains or the overmatched opponents they face.

I have many more wishes, but they’re not on my list.

There’s no sense, after all, in being greedy.